A crowd has gathered around 9 of Jesus’ disciples, because some Pharisees are arguing with them. Cause of dispute: an unresolved request. When Jesus approaches the crowd and asks what the commotion is all about, a man from the crowd responds, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of his speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not’ (Mark 9:17-18). The boy had been tormented this way ‘from childhood’ (v22), and the evil spirit would ‘often throw him into fire or water to kill him’ (v22). So, Jesus was the man’s last resort, for His disciples could not cast it out. The man beseeches Jesus, ‘But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us’ (v22). Jesus is taken aback and asks, ‘If you can? Everything is possible for him who believes’ (v23). After the boy’s father adjusted his perspective, Jesus rebukes the evil spirit, ‘You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again’ (v25). Immediately, ‘The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, ‘He’s dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up’ (v26-27). Later, the disciples ask Jesus, ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’ (v28), to which Jesus responds;
‘This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting’ (v29).
The deaf and mute spirit only responds to prayer and fasting, not a mere rebuke. It is a violent spirit that seeks to take the life of the victim. At first, it robs their hearing so that the victim only hears amplified demonic surmisings. Next, it robs their speech so that the victim cannot cry out for help. Eventually, it seeks to torment them to death. Indeed, the enemy comes to ‘steal and kill and to destroy’ (John 10:10). The deaf and mute spirit is a wasting spirit. One watches as their life ebbs away, and there is nothing they can do. The spirit has overpowered them. Were it not for the boy’s father speaking on his behalf, the boy would not have cried out for help – for he was dumb. Even the boy’s father had lost faith in finding a solution, because witnessing such torment is disturbing, especially for a parent. But Jesus tells him that all is possible if he would believe in Him. For, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God’ (10:v27). Jesus proves this by casting the spirit out by one rebuke. The Spirit in Jesus outweighed the evil spirit He addressed, and so it shrieked, knowing that its habitation had been raided by a stronger man. Indeed, ‘When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armour in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils’ (Luke 11:21-22). Jesus overpowered the evil spirit and removed any legal ground in which it stood on, and drove it away. Since the boy was that way since childhood, the legal grounds could have been familial or generational grounds, and so Jesus broke that spiritual umbilical cord – the armour in which the demonic spirit felt secure in.
Interestingly, before encountering the blind and mute Spirit, Jesus and three of his disciples (Peter, James, and John), had gone ‘onto a mountain to pray’ (Luke 9:28). As Jesus ‘was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem’ (v29-31). At that time, ‘Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him’ (v23). It is as if the disciples had a deaf and mute spirit. They did not at once perceive Jesus talk to Moses and Elijah, for they were deep asleep. But the glory around them caused them to convulse, and so they woke up. But, when Peter made a remark, it was noted that, ‘He did not know what he saying’ (v33). In other words, he was spiritually mute. But it took God to rebuke the blind and mute spirit in the three disciples. ‘A voice came from the cloud saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him!’ (v35). The deaf and mute spirit had to be rebuked by God. And when they had come down from the Mountain, Jesus demonstrates the same to the rest of His disciples by casting out the deaf and mute spirit in the boy. ‘And they were all amazed at the greatness of God’ (v43).
The deaf and mute spirit is not driven out by human finger, but God’s. In fact, it afflicts all humanity from childhood. Our first parents ‘hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden’ (Genesis 3:8). Man preferred trees instead of God. Since then, our obsession with trees is manifest, so that they are seen as god. Nature is even deemed as god to some in this present world. But this is what our forefathers were doing; ‘He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak . . . It is man’s fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But also he fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it’ (Isaiah 44:14, 15). These idols ‘have mouths, but cannot speak . . . they have ears, but cannot hear . . . nor can they utter a sound with their throats’ (Psalm 115:5,6,7). Since ‘Those who make them will be like them’ (v8), humanity became deaf and mute. The deaf and mute spirit was passed to us in the womb, and latched on our umbilical cord. So, no one could rescue the other from it, for no one could speak up for the other. ‘The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him’ (Isaiah 59:15-16).
The evidence of our deafness and muteness is the fact that at one point, we never heard with our spiritual ears what Jesus, the Word, was saying. We were ‘ever hearing but never understanding’ (Matthew 13:14). As a result, we could not speak His Word. In fact, if spiritually deaf people attempt to speak, like Peter, it will be noted that they do not know what they are saying. ‘They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm’ (1 Timothy 1:7). So, at one point, humanity was ‘darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts’ (Ephesians 4:18). The hardening of our hearts came about after the Fall, which gave way for the deaf and mute spirit to enter us. This is a destructive spirit for it convulses and compels us to further muddy ourselves in sin, until finally it throws us into hell fire for eternity. For ‘sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death’ (James 1:15). The evil spirit renders us deaf and amplifies its voice so that we live in ‘futility of (our) thinking’ (v17), as our minds become ‘busy with evil’ (Isaiah 32:6). As a result, all that comes out of our mouths are curses, slander, abuses, and blasphemies, since we do not have the Word, and so in essence we are spiritually mute.
But when God personally came to humanity, He ‘disarmed the (demonic) powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle among them, triumphing over them by the cross’ (Colossians 2:15). So, all evil powers, including the deaf and mute spirit were cast out, and so it is our mandate to personally draw to God and be free. However, many still latch on to the deaf and mute spirit by failing to draw near to God and listen. But those who by prayer and fasting seek God’s face find the deaf and mute spirit leave them. At first, they seem dead, for they ‘sit alone in silence’ (Lamentations 3:28). To others, we appear dead because we do not engage in worldly pleasures, for we are having our ears and mouth exorcised by the Word, prayer, and fasting. ‘They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you’ (1 Peter 4:4). Such fail to understand that ‘it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord’ (v26). For eventually, God stretches forth His hand and holds us up. The deaf and mute spirit instantly leave us so that we understand the Word, and proclaim it everywhere. Indeed, Jesus ‘is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you’ (2 Corinthians 13:3).
Ultimately, having Jesus in us by faith quickly outsits the deaf and mute spirit. The Spirit of Jesus is way stronger, and so when invited into our spirits, the evil spirit cannot withstand the Holy Spirit, but shrieks and flees. The Stronger Man is now in us, one who leads us to peace, joy, and righteousness, and not to distress, destruction, and death. That is why, ‘You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world’ (1 John 4:4). Indeed, greater and ‘blessed are . . . your ears because they hear’ (Matthew 13:16), and your mouth because they speak God’s ‘word faithfully’ (Jeremiah 23:28). We simply cannot engage in ‘debauchery, lust, drunkenness, revellings, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry’ (2 Peter 4:3), because we know too well that, ‘When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first’ (Matthew 12:43:45). We cannot afford to have the deaf and mute spirit re-enter us, alongside other evil spirits, and that is why Jesus warns, ‘See, you are made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto you’ (John 5:14). In fact, for those who know Jesus and still turn away, ‘It would have been better for them not know the way of righteousness, than to know it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed unto them’ (2 Peter 2:21). Such people end up being those ‘who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth’ (2 Timothy 3:6-7). Hence, the bottom line is, ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly’ (Colossians 3:16), so that no evil spirit will find room for habitation.
‘Consequently, faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ’ ~ Romans 10:17
‘I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live’ ~ John 5:25
‘I will bring him near and he will come close to me, for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?’ declares the Lord’ ~ Jeremiah 30:21